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Attack on Bengal minister conspiracy: Mamata; Oppn, Guv seek NIA probe

Source: PTI
Last updated on: February 19, 2021 03:21 IST
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The bomb attack on West Bengal minister Jakir Hossain snowballed into a political controversy with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleging that it was a preplanned conspiracy as certain people were 'pressuring' him to switch over to another party, while opposition parties demanded National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the issue.


IMAGE: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses the media at SSKM Government Hospital after meeting state labour minister Jakir Hosain, in Kolkata, February 18, 2021. Photograph: Utpal Sarkar / ANI Photo.

Joining the chorus, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar too called for an NIA investigation into the blast as a 'very expert investigation' is required into the incident.

Hossain, the minister of state for labour, was waiting at a platform of Nimtita railway station in Murshidabad district to catch a train to Kolkata at around 10 pm on Wednesday when he was attacked.

The Trinamool Congress MLA of Jangipore was later brought to SSKM Hospital in Kolkata.

The incident occurred ahead of the assembly election due in April-May.

The chief minister, who went to the hospital to inquire about his condition, slammed the railways for its alleged 'lacklustre' way of functioning.

"It was a preplanned attack on minister Jakir Hossain. Some people have claimed the blast was remote controlled. It is a conspiracy. Some people (party) were pressuring Jakir Hossian to join them for the last few months. I don't want to disclose anything more as the investigation is on," Banerjee told reporters.

The attackers apparently knew about Hossain's movement and must have been tailing him, she said adding that a total of 26 people were injured in the bomb blast.

The state government has handed over the probe in the case to the CID.

Banerjee said that state STF and Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) will assist the CID in the investigation.

The chief minister announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for those seriously injured in the explosion and Rs 1 lakh for people who received minor injuries.

"How can the railways deny their responsibility for security lapses when the attack happened at a railway station? There were no security personnel at the station at the time of the attack. There was no light, it was completely dark. What was the railway police doing?" she asked.

The railways should cooperate in the investigation, she said.

"A railway station is a railway property. The railway police is in charge of its security. It is not under our jurisdiction," she said.

Banerjee denied the opposition claim of worsening law and order situation, saying that the incident took place inside a railway station, premises that belong to the Centre.

Later in the evening, the Eastern Railways issued a statement saying it has offered to assist the state government in all investigation works into 'this unfortunate incident'.

'Indian Railways condemns the incident. Relief & rescue measures were immediately initiated by Railways,' the statement said adding that GRP also registered an attempt to murder case, the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress leadership slammed Banerjee for allegedly trying to divert public attention from the failures of the state government and demanded NIA probe into the incident.

"Only an NIA probe can bring out the truth. The TMC government would try to hush up the matter," state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury claimed.

BJP MP Locket Chatterjee said that the incident proves law and order has completely broken down in the state.

"The incident proves that law and order have ceased to exist. Does the railway run the state? Such theories won't help. She has failed both as state home minister and the chief minister," Chatterjee said.

BJP leader and Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra, who came to West Bengal to attend a party programme, demanded President's Rule in the state saying that even a minister is not safe under the TMC government.

Condemning the incident, Governor Dhankar, said that a 'very expert investigation' is required into the incident.

"I am sure the possibility of an investigation by National Investigating Agency (NIA) that has the requisite expertise to go into the matter will be involved by process of law," Dhankhar told reporters Kolkata.

The governor also visited the hospital in the evening to enquire about the condition of Hossain.

Meanwhile, the state government removed Murshidabad District Magistrate Jagdish Prasad Meena following the bomb attack and appointed Sharad Kumar Dwivedi in his place.

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